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March 10, 2021

Starting the career at an opera studio

Michael Arivony

We have to say that we face the most ubnormal times of our lives at the moment. With restricted social interactions, no culture and almost no travel, it is clear to say that our lives have almost gone into a stand still. But in all these, golden opportunities present themselves, and I would say that this is the first time in many years that we have „time“ for things that we thought we never had time for. For me, the lockdowns have also been a healing process: it taught me how to spend my time wisely, appreciate the moments that I have with my family (my wife) and also to realise that most of the time we do not need that much to be happy.

The most important decision in our lives, in my opinion, is to decide between luxury and necessity. The lockdown has also taught me that some of the things I thought were a necessity were actually nothing but luxury. I would not give specific examples, but this is to let you know that these are the times in which we can reflect on our lives.

This season, my wife and I moved to Vienna because I started my position at the Studio of the Wiener Staatsoper. And in the crisis, our theatre has kept rehearsals and coachings going and performed the essential premieres that were programmed for the season. To be honest, the world of theatre was a shock to me. The Wiener Staatsoper is my first ever professional engagement for opera. And the shock came from seeing the amount of work, the frequency of work and the time in which it had to be executed. Especially when involved in revivals, the rehearsal period can go from 5 days to a one day notice (if you are a cover). I was confronted to the fact that the professional world is not what the educative world has prepared us to. There are so many things we encounter in the professional world that we have not encountered or made aware of in school. These can range from things like doing your CV up to things like reading your contract and see where your rights are. And I think, these are the areas in which programs like NEUE STIMMEN Masterclasses have really helped me. Because it helped me ask the right questions and ponder on the right problems.

Being new in the business is a toughy, because while you try to get the hang of how the system works, you still have to play at the highest standard that you could ever give. And these have given me some hard times personally. I have found myself giving too much and being so hard at the end of the day. And slowly, through talks with senior colleagues, you learn to pace and economize. And to find and give what is essential. And to me, if I were to look back at my development in the last 5 months, I just can‘t believe the amount of things I have learnt. And if I were to advise any young singers who aspire for a career in singing, I would say be ready to be a student for the rest of your life. Because what we learnt in school are only things that concern our art and our instrument. Once we leave school it is about how we put our art to the service of others.

What inspired me lately...

At the moment, I have found time to learn a new skill: photography. And this has brought many things to my mind. Photography is an art that we take for granted in our live, because we now have phones that take incredible photos. And things that would not be possible, even by a professional photographer 20 years ago are now at our fingertips.

But learning photography, I have learnt not to depend on my gear. You do not have to have the latest camera to make amazing pictures. It is about mastering the things you have at your disposal. Any beginner photographer would learn to play with the ambient light, before going on to adding flash or extra lighting or buying new lenses. And this has inspired me to really focus on the things and skills I have at the moment: in my singing and in my life in general. I looked at different catalogues by famous photographers who sometimes take their pictures with the most basic cameras. If you master your skills, it does not matter the tool. You will be able to communicate your ideas and to reach your goals in general.

Jerry Hadley discusses Vocal Technique

I think, by listening to interviews like these of Jerry Hadley, we realise that the natural growth place of singing and music are in the places where they were meant to be performed. This encouraged me to go find further experiences, and especially why I wanted to go into an opera studio. The difference between singers of the 1920s and 30s and singers now is very simple: those singers in the 1920s and 30s spent their learning ages on stage, and developed on stage. I think conservatories, and schools of music are great. But I want to encourage younger singers to start experimenting early, and to take calculated risks. One thing that changed my musical life was this: you never know you are ready, unless you do it.

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